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My Brother's Room | Poem


He was lost to us for seven years, 
but we traced him to this door. 
When he opened it, a whitewash 
of poverty that caked the room 

clenched the walls behind his back, 
then exhaled its breath with ours. 
Its space squeezed air through cracks 
in smiles, rubbed our eyes in emptiness, 

ripping the mask of age away 
to bare the match-flame of his essence. 
Lit on the flint of sibling handshakes, 
it flickered in our brother’s face. 

To this day, I can still hear 
the squashing mouth of the wind 
as it sucked and chewed at the window 
of that room in San Francisco. 

I see his glances trip like feet 
on the staircases of our faces. 
I feel the ache of our mother’s knee 
as she hoists him up the family tree. 

If I could trade the silence 
that nails boards to shut his soul in 
for one photo from my album 
of our youth in San Jose, 

I would choose the summer Sunday 
of his hula-hooping lecture, 
when his swimming trunks clung 
to the point wet boys can make. 

His somersaulting phrases 
matched gyrations of his waistline, 
bouncing like a beachball 
on wet mouths of rubber pools. 

Our lazy grins were hula-hooped 
to floods of backyard laughter, 
while a hose of spouting water 
sprouted rainbows in thin air.

- Deborah Finch

to children's page     to Deborah     to Moongate


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